Creativity

Before embarking on this special things-to-do-with-hyphens edition, let me make it clear that any hyphenated words at the ends of lines in this paper may be mere vagaries of the computer hyphenation program, rather than creative contributions.

Dealing with emergencies first, Leo Bear suggests lifting one of their ends: "in an acute case the right end, and in grave cases the left end". Duncan Bull has the same idea, and wants to send them to France: "In return, the French could send some of their so-very-useful letters to Sian Cole". David Martin, however, warns us that French hyphens have "grouped together in a trait d'union" to combat any plans we may have for them. Ms Cole herself, whose circumflex is as cute an accent as one could hope to meet, has, regular readers will be pleased if unsurprised to hear, invented a new sexual position called the hyphen - which is, after all, a symbol of joining together. Bev Cross sees the hyphen as a phallic symbol and artistically fantasises about a 60 cc hyphen.

Back with the French, Magy Higgs writes:

The French use them set at such angles

That their e's are pronounced in a way

Far too hard for the poor Anglo-Saxon

To enunciate (It's not Anglais)

(and 10 more verses follow).

"Join together about 10,000 hyphens," says Roy Askew, "and enter them for the 60-metre dash." We fear, however, that he may have forgotten the hyphen in "60-metre" so you may need about 10,001.

"Hyphens," says Norman Foster, "can be used as bypasses around places that are only a dot on the map." David Preston thinks a hyphen is a dashed good idea. Tom Gaunt wants to retire all the hyphens in double-barrelled names to the Morse Code Home for Abandoned Punctuation. "Samuel Morse used on to make T". Jack and Renee Gallagher point out that Samuel Morse used one to make T.

Nicholas E Gough writes: "Substituting hyphens for words when one chooses to be ---- diplomatic with William Hartston for ----- because he is -- --- and does not ----- ----- a ----- prize."

Graham Burke says: "Hyphens are made from all the lines of longitude and latitude that people were always tripping over." He wants to replace them with a no-entry sign for asteroids. Ian Hurdley wants to take all the high fens to Lincolnshire to protect the locals from rising sea levels. Peter B Thomas mentions the Russian Tsar Hyphen-the-Terrible.

"At your local cinema now," Mike Gifford advertises: "The Hyphenator - a law enforcer who ensures that every criminal gets a long sentence." Nigel Plevin says: "A hyphen is a lexicographer's gimlet - it's used when you can't get an edge in wordways." Len Clarke wants hyphens in Ire-land and Abyss-inia, because that's what they seem to be teetering on the edge of at times.

More ideas in brief: "To replace rungs on ladders, or splints for spiders with broken legs" (Judith Holmes); "caraway seed substitute" (RJ Pickles); "sell in three-packs to social aspirants to slip between their names or form into an H to replace a dropped aspirate" (Mary Flavin); "use to pebble- dash house exteriors" (Bruse Birchall); "snacks to stop you getting hungry between bowls of alphabet soup" (Daniel Holloway).

Chambers Dictionary prizes to: David Martin, Roy Askew and Jack & Renee Gallagher-hyphen-Dolan.

Next week, Creativity will be taking a rest, but we shall be back a week later with things to do with a Single European Currency. This will no doubt leave you all wondering what to do with an absence of creativity. Ideas, please, to: Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

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